The European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), the world’s largest particle physics laboratory, said on March 14 that the particle discovered in July 2012 was “looking more and more like a Higgs boson.”
Occasionally referred to as “the god particle”, the Higgs boson is the theoretical elementary particle that is the key component of the mechanism that gives other sub-atomic particles their mass. Last year, CERN said that its experiments at the large hadron collider (LHC) have found “clear signs of a new particle” consistent with the predicted Higgs boson.
While the latest announcement, based on new LHC data, still stopped short of identifying the new particle as the long-sought and elusive Higgs boson, some scientists were more forthright.
“The preliminary results with the full 2012 data set are magnificent and to me it is clear that we are dealing with a Higgs boson though we still have a long way to go to know what kind of Higgs boson it is,” Joe Incandela, spokesperson for the CMS team at CERN, said in a statement.
The main question now is whether this is the Higgs boson of the Standard Model of particle physics, or possibly the lightest of several bosons predicted in some theories that go beyond the Standard Model, CERN said.
Answering the question would require time and “much more data from the LHC”, CERN said. The LHC accelerates protons and crashes them into each other, but only one in a trillion collisions appears to produce the particle thought to be the Higgs boson.
The LHC was built with the express purpose to search for the Higgs boson, first predicted in the 1960s and named after British theoretical physicist Peter Higgs, one of several scientists to make the prediction. Their model envisioned the particle as having a large mass, about 125 billion electronVolts (GeV), requiring a very large particle accelerator to be observed.
(Illustration of the cross section of an large hadron collider dipole in the tunnel by CERN)